Should Scotland become independent?
As the referendum approaches, it is clear that there is a bitter division between the YES and NO camps and it seems to be a close race.
Our first guide Diane a stocky middle aged woman with a wonderful lilting accent and dry sense of humour explained in her commentary to us that she needed to be professionally neutral but did reveal that she and her husband held opposing views. Perhaps she was a YES voter. Diane showed us around Edinburgh from the Holyrood Palace to the modern Parliament building designed by a Barcelonan architect – appropriate given the aspirations of the Catalans for independence. We visited the castle with Diane during the day and returned in the evening to watch the spectacular Edinburgh Tattoo, a superbly orchestrated production where hundreds of performers including a Maori Kapahaka group entertained us all in front of the cleverly lit castle.
Willie our coach driver over the last 5 days was a NO man. He had little time for Alex Salmond and didn’t think he had been able to explain any advantages of independence. Willie drove us to Inverness and showed us around the area with visits to Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, the Castle of Mey where the Queen Mother lived for a month each year. Glenmorangie, a Whisky distillery; Dunrobyn, the Sutherland castle with a magnificent garden ; Fort George, a very impressive complex which is still a military base and Cawdor castle – a fairy tale building with many turrets. He also backed us down the narrow streets and on and off the ferry to and from the Orkneys.
Roger, our guide in the Orkneys was an erudite man with a BBC accent who explained to us what he thought were the major issues. What currency will be used if Scotland becomes independent? How well off will Scotland be? How much North Sea oil is left? Would Scotland be able to continue as a member of the EU?
The vote will be held on the 18th September by which time we will be back in NZ but we will undoubtedly follow the outcome with more interest and understanding.
Written by Rosanne Matheson